We all know that we need to exercise regularly to keep in good health, but sometimes we just can’t afford the time or the dollars for a membership to a swanky gym. But if you’ve got some space in your home, with a small investment it is possible to create your own 24-hour access home gym. However, before you think that a home gym won’t give you the results you want if you can’t afford the kind of equipment you’d normally find in a professional gym, read what some of Australia’s top health professionals have to say about what you need in a home gym.
A humble skipping rope
According to Michael Jarosky, of Sydney based personal trainers, there’s no need to drop your hard-earned dollars on ellipticals or treadmills, especially as you can achieve the same effect simply by jumping rope. A skipping rope can cost as little as $5 but can help you to improve your cardiovascular fitness while burning masses of calories which will help tone or lean out your physique. It’s also a great portable fitness tool that you can take on holiday, to work, or just about anywhere where you want to stay fit when you’re away from home.
Kettlebells are a versatile addition to any home gym and fitness program. Master the art of kettlebell swings for cardiovascular fitness that also works your back, legs and glutes, or use them as you would traditional dumbbells for a more focused weight training session. If you really want to test your mobility, balance and strength, learn how to do a Turkish Get-Up.
You’ll want to buy at least two kettlebells, but don’t underestimate the weight you need. Your strength will soon improve.
Dumbbells and barbells
One of the most basic and widely known items of fitness equipment, a selection of dumbbells is a must for any home gym, together with a barbell and weights if you have the space. They’re not only essential tools for helping you to build muscle, but cost effective too. However, if you’ve never used free weights before, Gyms Guide, Australia’s leading guide for gym seekers, recommends that you book a session with a trainer to learn correct form, and reduce the risk of injuries.
Pull up bar
Along with many trainers, Daniel Freeman of Freeman’s Fitness recommends adding a pull up bar to your home gym. One of the toughest exercises for anyone to perform, the pull up is a compound exercise that primarily targets the latissimus dorsi, as well as your arms, shoulders, scapular, abdominals, pelvic floor, hands and forearms. Just make sure you buy a quality bar that you can fix securely to your doorframe to avoid any potential YouTube style mishaps.
Push up handles
If you can’t afford a bench for bench presses, push up handles will help you work the exact same muscles. They allow you to work different parts of your chest, while reducing the stress on the wrists and give you the opportunity to work deeper to the floor.
A relatively new addition to the mass fitness market, suspension trainers are easily storable but when attached to a door, a wall or even a tree outdoors, they allow you to work all your body in one way or another. Natalie Carter of Natalie Talks Fitness swears by them for single leg squats, rows and planks.
Another versatile addition to your home gym kit, the Swiss Ball can be used for all kinds of exercises from sit ups to overhead ball squats. They’re also a great aid for training your posture and core. Choose a good quality ball that fits within your budget. You don’t want to suffer the indignity of falling off an exploding ball.
Pilates or yoga mat
No matter how clean you keep your floor, you’ll still benefit from having a yoga or pilates mat for floor work and stretching exercises. Natalie Carter recommends that you buy a good quality dark coloured mat and that you give it a good clean with disinfectant and water on a regular basis.
Foam rollers and trigger point massagers
Okay, while it doesn’t seem like an essential for any gym, you’ll feel the benefit of using a foam roller before and after exercise to ease out sore muscles, reduce stiffness and help break down any tight fascia. Anthony Gillespie of Brisbane’s Best Practice Personal Training’s recommends using a tennis and golf ball for trigger point massage.
A White Board
While a white board doesn’t immediately spring to mind as an important component of a home gym, Michael Jarosky finds it invaluable for writing down fitness goals, and keeping track of where you are in your fitness journey. Make it the first thing you see every time you enter your home gym.
It’s all down to space, commitment and budget
If you’re setting up a home gym on a small budget you can see that it’s possible to get a good all-round workout without splashing too much cash. However, if you do have more money and space available, there are lots of home versions of gym equipment from treadmills and rowing machines to squat racks and multi-gym trainers to consider. It’s all down to space, commitment and budget.